Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Beauty, Depends How You Look At It.

Like the country song says, "It's hard to stay humble if you get better looking every day."

A workout is good for the proper reasons. I get mighty stiff sitting on my caboose all day. I figured if I walk in and out of my driveway 10 times, I have walked one mile.

For $60 dollars a month my wife and I could join the Y. We did that. It's a ten mile roundtrip. Our car gets 15 mile per gallon. Adding all other costs to run a vehicle, the total, $7.50 to go to the Y.

We tried to go the the Y twice a week, but most often only made it once a week. This amounts to $15.00 every time we stepped into the Y. Add that to the cost of getting there, the total is $22.50 for walking on a treadmill for 18 minutes to walk a mile.

Walking in and out of my driveway ten times is a pretty good deal; cost wise. Not to mention the fresh air I get vs breathing recycled sweat vapors.

That is all I'll say about the health aspect.

What really blows my mind if folks forgo the health part and build their shapes to look pretty, or should I say- . . . you put in the word.  What would be the adjective to describe the pictures below:

Now look at the exquisite forms of the soft and enticing female counter part of looking pretty:

Can you imagine the hours spent looking at yourself. Watching every ripple grow to a defined piece of art to rival the famous Venus DeMilo. . . . GIVE ME A BREAK.

The headless fellow below got his shape by laying in artificial light for two month, with never a grunt, or never breaking a sweat.

Isn't he pretty!!!! Happily flaunting his stuff. Check out them biceps, The proud chest.


Burp. . . . Soft shell crabs are some of my favorites.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Are You Frazzled Yet?

Black Friday and cyber Monday have come and gone.

The shopping days toward Christmas are ticking down, and the pressure of accomplishing everything on your list seems ever more impossible, are you starting to feel panicky?

You have to learn to chill. (I can't believe I said chill). Forty years ago we said "be cool." Further back, you may have asked, "Do you find him a bit irritable?

Here are a few poses that'll get you through the coming days. During the workday, no matter where you work, there is always a spot or a means to kick back and unwind. I use to take a nap on my workbench. Maybe you can stretch out in your car. Maybe sit on the toilet and read the funnies. If you can't do none of the above, park you a wheelbarrow out back somewhere. The handlebars make a swell footrest. A stack of cinder blocks just right for under the head.

Now at home, it's almost routine. You've got to unwind first. The clock quits dictating when you're at home. You can kick your shoes off, get you a cup of tea, park your tired derriƩre in your favored recliner and
RECLINE. . . . oops,

A little too far. . .


Sunday, November 27, 2011

All Good Things Will End

Halloween is over. To some folks that may be a sad thing.

If you dwell on it, it will get worse.

So, cheer up! . . . even if you have to be a square.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

All Creatures Need A Home


Nippy comes before cold. Cold works its way in before frost. Frost is the greeter who welcomes snow. Snow comes to cover, to hide, to shut out. . . All creatures need a home.

I recently went to the barn to start my tractor. No reason, just to keep the battery ready. . . Well, it would not crank. When I opened the lid to expose the battery, I found this huge nest on top of it. Earlier in the year I removed a mouse nest from the same place. It was smaller, tighter, and the stuff used was more fuzz and fibers. This nest however, looked wild and thrown together.

Thrown together with leaves, small sticks and, look at it close, a snakeskin.

Now, I know a little mouse could not haul that thing up the tires and under the hood without a big rat helping. 

Maybe that isn't a snakeskin at all. Maybe a bunch of squirrels ordered in some steamed shrimp?


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

There Is No Fool Like An Old Fool

It was 1950 when the challenge presented itself. The only apartment my mother could find in bombed out Munich, Germany was an attic flat. Two rooms, about seven feet wide and fifteen feet long, under a mansard roof. The view was great, however the stairs leading up to the rooms counted one-hundred-and-ten steps. ( The full stories are in my book)

Not only did we have to carry our groceries up 110 steps, but also our coal and bicycles every day. Needless to say, lots of good exercise. But who cared about exercise in those days. We did not even know about germs and never hear of calories.

One fun thing for a kid my age and size was the method I got down those flights of stairs.

For five years, until we immigrated to the US, I practiced and perfected the sliding down on the banisters. I could master the five stories of elevation in just seconds. The banisters were of wood and slick as a greased eel from decades of use.

Over the years I've been challenged to slide down banisters in many different public buildings, and other inviting single rails.

Since I'm now a grown man, and have to portray a certain maturity in my community, I don't take the opportunity to show off my sliding skills other than at my home church. (Where being a goofball is accepted).

My church is endowed with the perfect sliding rail. I've been sliding that rail for over thirty years. Many kids have tried to imitate the grace and style of a seventy-year-old phenom.

Come visit Mt. Olivet Baptist Church. I welcome the challenge. I might even lend you my Bible with which to balance on the way down the rail.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Law Of Local Folks

Why is it against the law to walk an alligator on the sidewalk of Chicago?

Why is it against the law to meditate facing north?

Why is it against the law to chew gum while starlings are gathering on power lines?

Why is it against the law to walk naked under a full moon?

Why is it against the law to paint your eyebrows green?

Why is it against the law to stand on your head, on a pier, at sundown?

These and tens-of-thousands more laws and rules have been arrived at by careful pondering, committee meetings and saying 'yeah' by the raising of a few hands. Many are simply on the books to collect a fine or two should some weirdoes venture into town. All that is okay with me, however, if it takes the hiring of a dude, or dudet, to slap handcuffs on the naked fellow blissfully communing with the full moon, the rule becomes a stretch.

I took the following photos in Charleston SC. Obviously the Feds had no input, (how refreshing is that!).

The following is not permitted:

1)  You can't dip your can in the harbor's water,
2)  You can't let your kids frolic,
3)  You must drink beer only out of cans,
4)  You can't blow honkers from either mouth or nose,
5)  and of course, should you know that you're about to come down with the flu, . . . you must stay out of Charleston.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Check Out Them Digs


Our kids and grandchildren fret over what to wear. With Christmas just around the corner, it would do us well to see how much the rest of the world is fretting over what to wear.

These precious and happy children don't know what is in style. They don't spend an hour getting ready, matching and styling, worrying if they fit into the in-crowd.

Most of the clothes you see them wearing have been handed down for years.

some are literally rags, or nothing at all.

Inside out, right side out, it does not matter.

Long sleeves, short sleeves, buttons, no buttons, It really does not matter.  

Personally, I truly do not need anything for Christmas. I have all the clothes I can wear, the best sleeping bed in the world, a pantry full of goodies and a wife that loves me. 

May I suggest you fill up a half dozen shoeboxes for the "Christmas Shoebox" world wide ministry through Samaritans Purse. AND PUT IN A T-SHIRT OT TWO––any color. 

Let us all consider the words of the Bible "It is more blessed to give than to receive."


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Snakes, The Quiet Helpers

Since the beginning, snakes have gotten a bad name. Rightfully so, the serpent deceived, and man fell from the fellowship with God.

But, snakes are still a creature created by our Maker. We were told by Him to have dominion of all the creatures He made.

Among the animal world, snakes are a tremendous asset in controlling rats, mice and insects. I suppose in the middle ages, when the black plague wreaked havoc with the peoples of Europe, an invasion of snakes would have shortened the suffering.

It seems to me that women have always been terrified by a snake. Just the mention of one makes them shudder. As it also does my wife.

I bought a black garden hose and placed it along the edge of our mulched flower bed. In theory it shortened the trip to the spigot when in need to fill the watering can. One day, my wife while tending to her plants and flowers reached for the hose. When, within inches of picking up the hose, she realized the hose had a strange tapered shape that was not so the last time. She let out a shriek, loud enough for the neighbor across the street to come running.

With her heart in her throat she called on me to "Do something." And I did.

I came and diagnosed the situation. (A man thing). The snake had wiggled its way into a mouse or mole tunnel under the mulch. only its tail was exposed and near the black garden hose.

I grabbed hold of the tail and started to pull. My wife by then was in her windowless sewing room with the door locked.

I gently tugged, not wanting to tear the creature's tail off. When I started to pull, the snake expanded its body and was not moving backward. I kept up the pressure. I noticed the only progress of backing up was when the snake relaxed. Inch by inch, slowly, in time, it came out of the hole.

Now, what should I have done with it? Kill it? Absolutely not. I carried it to our old pond and let it feast on varmints that I'm sure will crawl to get a drink of water.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Hog Killing at 8000 feet Elevation


Thanksgiving just around the corner; my kind of holiday!

It's interesting how different cultures approach an age old procedure such as killing, dressing, scalding and trimming an animal grown for human consumption.

As a kid I lived at a time when meat was scarce. Only a farmer was able to secretly raise a hog. I say secretly, because had the Government known about it, the farmer would have had to share with the town folk.

Several times in the mid 1940s I was awakened by a squeal in the middle of the night. My mother said not to be scared, "the farmer," over whose horse stable we lived, "just killed a pig."

Here in Virginia, my neighbor farmer killed at least a half dozen hogs when frost was in the air. After scalding the scraping the hair, he'd hang them all, in a neat row, on a strong branch, spanning two forked posts.
A beautiful sight. Lots of bacon, chops, roasts, hams and loins. High on the hog stuff.

But, but, but, most of the good eatin' is in the innerds, and the lips, ears, knuckles and brains.

At a Mission trip to Chota, Peru I shot this scene from the back of the work pickup. We didn't witness the killing part, but got a feeling of the superb hygiene in progress.

First you walk your hogs to town where there is concrete paving in the road.

Then, after the animal is snuffed, you begin to singe the hair off with a kerosine fired torch.

Okay, who is first? Cops? Knuckles? Fatback anyone? . . . Don't worry, the guy from the health department never showed up.

Don't cringe. Do you know what's in a hotdog? ? ?


Saturday, November 12, 2011

More of Henry, The No-Face Puppet


Henry, a thirty inch tall, faceless puppet stands in the corner. A sad little fellow. My grandchildren want to know what Henry did to get in trouble. On the spot, I have to come up with a reason.

Well here is my yarn spun, as usual, on the fly and on the spot.

Papa, why is Henry in the corner?
He looks like a repenting mourner.
Standing there, face against the wall; 
All forsaken down the hall.
. . . Listen children! Stretch and hear my voice;
Henry had a chance but made his choice.
A mischievous boy I dare say,
Loves to get in trouble instead of play.
Mama was fixin’ to bake some bread;
Come Henry and watch, she proudly said.
Eager and all eyes was our little boy.
Showing no interest in another toy.
. . . To make a loaf––he did one time;
Out of mud it was . . . it was just fine.
This was real, oh boy! He was happy so,
Couldn’t wait to put his fingers in the dough.
Mama stirred, rolled and pounded.
While Henry in a chair was grounded.
He was careful just to watch
And sternly warned not to touch.
. . . The dough was ready now to rest,
This really challenged Henry to the test.
With a clean cloth the lump was covered,
But Henry’s plans were soon discovered.
On his hands he was no longer sitting,
He began to do what was only fitting.
His little fingers slowly did the walking
While Mama on the phone was talking.
. . . Behind the cloth he fingered every inch,
Soon he grabbed a good sized pinch.
Under the table––hidden by the door,
With a little lump he was now on the floor.
The soft dough he worked and squeezed
Until bubbles from his fingers sneezed.
He rolled little worms and long ones too,
Three skinny ones for him and one for you.
. . . He stuck them under the table like Christmas tinsel,
Soft and limp spaghetti, some longer than a pencil.
His fingers were now sticky and the floor a mess.
Should he pinch off more dough . . . or stop and confess?
On the floor his socks were stuck,
As in a puddle of yucky muck.
His sticky fingers left their track,
Up the chair and around the back.
. . . The evidence he could no longer hide,
To his Mama he must confide.
To play with dough so soft and sticky,
Was great fun, but staying clean––oh so tricky!
Again our Henry lived his dreams,
How wonderful to him it seems.
Back to the corner he must go,
No more playing with real dough.
. . . To clean the mess made Mama sad,
But her heart was wonderfully glad.
That boy is just a stuffed rag doll,
She wished he was real . . . that is all.
Henry’s Mom and Dad they dream as well,
It’s a secret and I should not tell.
. . . Papa . . . you must give us a little clue,
Just between us kids and you!
. . . Bend your ear and I’ll tell you softly . . .
Their wish is mighty high and lofty.
. . . Every night they pray to God above,
To send a baby of their own to love. 


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dinosaurs Of The Insect World


When I grew up in the Old Country we had a few mosquitos and swarms of flies. Bees and wasps, but no hornets. We had spiders and roaches, but I can't recall having crickets. If we had poisonous snakes, no one ever warned me about it.

I want to show my friends, that follow this blog, from Europa, India, Australia, and many other foreign lands what crawls around in this hemisphere.

This spider, I do not know its name, is about four centimeter in length. With front legs like that, it sure looks like it could do some damage.

I don't know what this fellow is called, but with feelers like that his reach is great.

This monster, about three centimeter long, is actually a shell out of which crawled a Cicada.
A Cicada crawls from deep inside the ground every thirteen years. Unlike the locust, it does not eat any vegetation. It simply climbs a tree or bush until it finds a tender twig to lay its eggs. It does that by drilling holes in the bark in the hopes the winter wind will break off the twig. The twig falls to the ground, is covered with leaves. When the branch decays, the larvae will bury itself to begin the cycle anew.

This is a Walking Stick. An insect that can hide in bushes and flowers to snatch other and smaller insect. The picture shows one about fourteen centimeters long.

The Praying Mantis is a highly prized insect to have in ones flower bed. This specimen is about nine centimeters long. Like the scarcer Walking Stick, it blends into the surroundings. However, this insect can also change its color to better hide from its prey. It snatches and feeds on many aphids and other sap-sucking bugs.

Isn't God good? He's got it all figured out!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Psychology vs A Skilled Trade


Nowadays, you hear about the lack of available jobs. However, I recently read that there are hundreds of thousands of jobs to be filled, if only the applicants had a skill.

Here, I could get into why Germany is and has been an industrial power, but the answer is simple: APPRENTICESHIP.   Read my book.

When I first came to this country, people then, and still today, hold there nose when one mentions a "Trade School". The simple reaction to the word Vocational School is, "My precious child is going to college!"

I ask you to read the statistics and see that nearly 3/4 of young folks do not graduate from a college. And even if the HS graduate gains a degree what MARKETABLE SKILL did the child gain? And further more, ponder this, what did it cost the parents? Or how much of a student loan has he or she hanging around the neck when the real life begins and they are looking to find employment?

The following is a true story which has played itself out over the last twenty-five years.

Back in the early 80s, I asked the then Bedford Educational Center's principal to send me a fellow who'd be at work everyday and wanted to learn a trade. (BEC is a high school trade school / Vocational School)

Twenty years later the man still worked for us. He was head pressman, operating a million dollar printing press, and making over twenty dollars an hour. When he first started, he bought himself a functional truck and began saving toward the purchase of a good sized piece of land. A few years later, after paying off the land, he had a large pond built on his property. With pond and land payed off, he had enough collateral to apply for a construction loan to build him a log cabin.

The man was an exemplary employee, steady as a rock, and so was his income. Week after week, year after year, he took home a paycheck; . . . for over twenty years. Three weeks vacation, retirement, holidays, overtime. . .

His house is paid off. . . No mortgage, . . . no student loan payments.

When the man turned forty years old, he quit his job. A total shock to the company.

The reason was, he did not want to work shift work. Although he had seniority, we could not give him preferential treatment. Everyone in the plant was asked to work shift work.

He left on good terms and we still speak and kid around whenever we meet.

He now works part time, days only, for ten dollars an hour; happy with his life. He grows a big garden, hunts all he wants, fishes out of his pond, looking ahead to see when he should cash in his retirement.

                                            Thank God for America!

And then there was the dude with a psychology degree driving a delivery truck in downtown Newark.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

When The Sun Goes Down


One of my favorite verses out of Scripture is:
                                 BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.

Undoubtably, a photographer's best lighting is near the end of the day. Colors of objects seem to become translucent, vivid and rich.

When the day ebbs, it is time for a deep breath. A time to reflect on yet another day about to fade to darkness.

If you can not see beauty and the hand of our Creator because of the pressures of life, I can only say this too shall pass. . . .  Looking to the Mountain will draw you out of the valley.

Never forget Who knows all your days. . . . Psalm 139: 14-16


Friday, November 4, 2011

Under Construction


We all live in safe and warm homes. If you ever added on to your house, or even started one from scratch, you will have encountered Rules, Laws, Restrictions, Regulations, Requirements, Codes, and Inspections.

One early asinine comment came from an so-called inspector, about twenty years ago. We were building a one-bedroom home, fully modern and to code, . . . we thought. We had used the timbers that came out of the Bedford Locker Plant for the floor joists. Those timbers were a full two-by-ten inches in thickness. Solid oak, much stronger than the 1.5 x 9.5" pine 2 x 10s sold at the lumber yard. They were not kiln dried, but cured for 50 years under a roof in downtown Bedford.

We called for a rough-in inspection.

What good is an inspection if you can't find anything wrong? After all, an important position like Inspector has to justify its position and job security.

"You can't use those," he said pointing at the rough cut timbers. "They have not been stamped 'Kiln Dried'. Nor do they say 'Grade A'.

Well, so what does a Christian man say? . . . .x . .@ . .z . . . . Here, the whole house is framed, doors, windows, roof and all.

Just think about it. The thousands of rules and codes we live with are sold to you as 'Safety'. Hogwash I say! All it is about, keeping the value up so if one forecloses the bank can get their money out of it. And most of all, the insurance companies will be less liable to have to pay-out. Think about it, it is the insurance companies; less injuries, fewer claims. Don't get me wrong, I have all kinds of insurance. I can even have an aggravating wart on my butt removed and step out of the doctor's office smiling.

Who is more free, The motorcycle driver in South Carolina, who flies down the freeway without a helmet, or the kid in New Jersey who points his index finger at his buddy and gets suspended from school for three days for doing that?

Look at the picture below. That family's home is under construction. They are waiting for the rainy season to finish the first layer of mud on their home. What? No trusses? No double-pane windows? I bet those kids will eventually have their own sink to brush their teeth in.      

                                           GOD BLESS AMERICA

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

He Is Sparking, as they say.

There is a time when a boy becomes a lad, and the lad becomes a man. The times between the lad and the man can be some memorable ones. I don't quite know how testosterone works, but when milk starts to stick to a young man's wispy mustache, change is in the making.

Raising three boys, I observed a few oddities and heard of a few more.

Friends in the neighborhood were also blessed with children, children the age of ours. However, they also had young maidens living under their roof.

One of my boys befriended my neighbor's young son, therefore he was able to maneuver toward a more personal range of his sister, who was his age. A pretty young girl, full of giggles and smiles. School bus quips and kidding around had not been enough. My son wanted to become her friend.

Now there are ways to draw closer to a young maiden. Those ways also had to be discovered by my young son. To scare the girl may work for some, and then again it may not work at all.

It may have been Halloween time, thirty years ago, when my son and his neighbor buddy decided to frighten his sister. With the help of the railing on the neighbor's back porch, the two boys climbed onto the roof of their house. Knowing that the sister had retired to her room, the boys snuck along the roof to directly over her bedroom window. They brought along pebbles and thin tree branches. The two started to flick little stone unto the window hoping to arouse the girl in the room. Intermittently they also rubbed the window with the soft tree branches making strange and eery sounds.

It did the trick. The girl became alarmed when the strange noises kept on and on. She must have gone to her daddy either scared or simply annoyed. Her father having seen the two boys earlier put two and two together and came up with a sure solution.

With the boys still on the roof, he quietly slid open the window from the inside, stuck his 12 gauge shotgun out, and let her blow. The boom and flash of fire had those boys a scootin'. Only their underwear knew they had been frightened.